T-Mobile US is closing the gap on market leader Verizon when it comes to 4G availability in the US, while the two companies are neck and neck on overall speed metrics according to a new report by OpenSignal.

OpenSignal’s Q4 State of Mobile Networks: USA, based on 4.6 billion network measurements for Q4 2016, said Verizon cemented its position at the top of the rankings after testers found a LTE signal 88.2 per cent of the time, up from 86 per cent it recorded in its Q3 report in August.

However, T-Mobile US is now “within a stone’s throw of matching Verizon”, with users able to connect to a T-Mobile US 4G signal 86.6 per cent of the time, up from 83 per cent in Q3.

AT&T, which lost second spot in the rankings to T-Mobile US last time out, saw its availability increase to 82.2 per cent from 80 per cent.

Number four operator Sprint, meanwhile, registered the biggest improvement, with availability jumping from 69.9 per cent in August to 76.8 per cent.

OpenSignal said its availability metric measures the proportion of time users can access a particular network, rather than tracking geographic coverage, and in fact, all four operators displayed “significant improvements” in the last six months.

In September last year, T-Mobile US CTO Neville Ray (pictured) claimed Verizon’s network coverage advantage had already disappeared.

Neck and neck
When it comes to speed, Verizon and T-Mobile US are pretty much level, said OpenSignal, with Verizon gaining ground in Q4 after losing top spot to its rival six months ago.

That narrow edge has now disappeared, with average LTE download speed on T-Mobile US hitting 16.7Mb/s, and Verizon at 16.9Mb/s, “results close enough to produce a statistical tie”, said the report.

“Verizon has clearly taken exception to T-Mobile’s recent attempts to steal the network spotlight,” said OpenSignal. “Verizon is fighting back with 4G upgrades of its own, and as our latest results in the US show, it’s doing so quite effectively.”

With 4G availability improving, OpenSignal observed “3G connections are becoming largely irrelevant” in the US.

“Our overall speed measurements, which factor in both 3G and 4G networks, were less than 2Mb/s slower than operators’ 4G speed measurements,” it added.